Czernecki, Stefan 1946–

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Czernecki, Stefan 1946–

Personal

Born 1946, in Germany.

Addresses

Home—Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Career

Children's book author and illustrator. Works as a graphic artist; has also worked in film.

Awards, Honors

Chocolate Lily Book Award nomination, 2004, for The Sea King by Jane Yolen.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

(With coauthor Timothy Rhodes) The Time before Dreams, Sterling Pub. (New York, NY), 1989.

(With coauthor Timothy Rhodes) Nina's Treasures, Sterling Pub. (New York, NY), 1990.

(With coauthor Timothy Rhodes) Bear in the Sky, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1990.

(With coauthor Timothy Rhodes) Pancho's Piñata, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1992.

(With coauthor Timothy Rhodes) The Sleeping Bread, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1992.

(With coauthor Timothy Rhodes) The Singing Snake, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1993.

(With coauthor Timothy Rhodes) The Hummingbirds' Gift, additional illustrations by Juliana Reyes de Silva and Juan Hilario Silva, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.

Zorah's Magic Carpet, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.

(Reteller) The Cricket's Cage: A Chinese Folktale, translation by Cimon Ching, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.

Buddha under the Bodhi Tree, Bayeux (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 1998.

Paper Lanterns, Talewinds (Watertown, MA), 2000.

Huevos Rancheros, Crocodile Books (Brooklyn, NY), 2002.

(Reteller) Cossack Tales, Hyperion Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 2002.

Ride 'Em, Cowboy, Simply Read (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2004.

Cowboy Charlie's Rodeo, Hyperion Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 2004.

Liliput 5357, Simply Read Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2006.

Author's books have been translated into Spanish.

ILLUSTRATOR

Rhinehart Friesen, Almost an Elephant: A Children's Story, Hyperion Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1987.

Ellen Schwartz, Mr. Belinsky's Bagels, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 1998.

Ricardo Keens-Douglas, Mama God, Papa God: A Caribbean Tale, Crocodile Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Karim Alrawi, The Girl Who Lost Her Smile, Winslow Press (Delray Beach, FL), 2000.

Vi Hughes, Aziz, the Story Teller, Crocodile Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Jane Yolen and Shulamith Oppenheim, The Sea King, Crocodile Books (Brooklyn, NY), 2003.

Hans Christian Andersen, For Sure! For Sure! (translation by Mus White of Det er ganske vist!), August House (Little Rock, AK), 2004.

Anita Wiebe-Wiebe, Rabbit's Soup, Hyperion Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 2004.

Robert D. San Souci, Zigzag, August House (Little Rock, AK), 2005.

Andrea Tyler, Masks, Hyperion Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 2006.

Caroline McAlister, Holy Molé!, August House (Little Rock, AK), 2007.

Contributor of illustrations to periodicals.

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OTHER

(Illustrator) Louisa Loeb and others, compiler, Down Singing Centuries: Folk Literature of the Ukraine, Hyperion Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1981.

(With Timothy Rhodes) Naïve Art in the West: Urban, Suburban, and Rural: The Works of Sidney Kelsie, George Marke, and Martin Schatz, Hyperion Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1991.

(With Michael Haijtink) The Most Incredible Cardboard Toys in the Whole Wide World, Lark Books (Asheville, NC), 1999.

Sidelights

Born in Germany and now making his home on the west coast of Canada, Stefan Czernecki is an artist and writer who focuses his unique viewpoint on creating books for young readers. In addition to creating art for texts by Hans Christian Andersen, Robert D. San Souci, Ricardo Keens-Douglas, Ellen Schwartz, Jane Yolen, and others, he has created original self-illustrated tales such as The Cricket's Cage: A Chinese Folktale, Huevos Rancheros, and Liliput 5357, the last which was praised by a Kirkus Reviews writer as an "onomatopoeia-filled paean to retro wind-up toys" comprised of full-colored, computer-enhanced photographs that serve up an "eye-catching treat." In addition to his book projects, Czernecki also creates artwork for posters, has worked on films, and contributes illustrations to several children's magazines.

In his artwork, Czernecki employs vivid colors and dramatic contrasts, and his paintings are often created using gouache, an opaque water color. Inspiration for his stories and art is drawn from his travels around the world—including Japan, Africa, and South and Central America—and his illustration style often reflects the folk art native to the region wherein the respective story takes place. In fact, Czernecki's home doubles as a showcase for the folk-art collection he has amassed during his travels. As a Kirkus Reviews writer noted of his work in bringing to life Mus White's translation of Andersen's For Sure! For Sure!, "Czernecki's bold and vividly colored graphics are definitely attention-grabbing."

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Praising the original self-illustrated picture book Ride 'Em, Cowboy, School Library Journal contributor Sandra Welzenbach concluded that the book's "delightful language and folk-art images will appeal to youngsters with a taste for the West."

A knowledge of folk-art styles has proved valuable in creating illustrations for books such as Keens-Douglas's Mama God, Papa God: A Caribbean Tale, Vi Hughes' picture book Aziz, the Story Teller, and Karim Alrawi's The Girl Who Lost Her Smile. Mama God, Papa God, a creation story, is enhanced by Czernecki's "stylized paintings," which "echo the good humour and positive mood" of Keens-Douglas's rhythmic story, according to a Resource Links contributor.

Like many other author/illustrators, Czernecki gets more satisfaction from illustrating his own texts than those of other writers, mainly because of the control he gains over the project as a whole. In The Cricket's Cage, for example, he retells a story he first learned from translator Cimon Shing. He pairs his story with paintings that reflect his interest in traditional Chinese painting techniques. In the story, Yongle, the powerful third emperor of the Ming dynasty, desires that four towers be constructed, one at each of the four corners outlying the imperial city. The task, a daunting one for the many craftsmen involved, is made more daunting in that all those who perform beneath the emperor's exacting standards will be killed. As the pool of available carpenters grows smaller, artisan Kuai Xiang looks forward to the probability of death. When the job of working on the towers is finally assigned to him, Xiang is aided by a lucky cricket, which helps him alter his fate. In Booklist, Karen Morgan noted that Czernecki's decision to incorporate Chinese characters with "bright colors, and traditional designs, adds a feel of authenticity to the folktale," while a Publishers Weekly writer noted that the author/illustrator's "concise retelling" is enhanced by "arresting art" that in its decorative detail "imaginatively conveys the grandeur" of the Ming dynasty.

Other original illustrated tales that reflect Czernecki's interest in world cultures include Huevos Rancheros, which finds a savvy hen who attempts to escape from her cage at the festive restaurant of Señor Raul only to discover that the cage is actually there to protect her from predators rather than keep her captive. Noting that Czernecki's use of "brilliant" gouache tones "give the book a distinctive Mexican flavour," Valexie Pollock noted in her Resource Links review that the author's inclusion of a recipe for the tasty title meal adds to the book's multicultural theme. Discussing The Hummingbirds' Gift, one of several stories Czernecki has coauthored with Timothy Rhodes, Horn Book contributor Maeve Visser Knoth wrote that the "text is unadorned and direct, in the style of a folktale, balancing the more elaborate art" by Czernecki. Zorah's Magic Carpet, which is set in a Moroccan city, pairs the author/illustrator's "imaginative rendering of intensely colored illustrations in a style suggestive of Moroccan carpets" with a "carefully honed" story featuring "sly touches of humor," according to Mary M. Burns, also writing in Horn Book.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 1994, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Hummingbirds' Gift, p. 1538; April 15, 1997, Karen Morgan, review of The Cricket's Cage: A Chinese Folktale, p. 1431; July, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Mr. Belinsky's Bagels, p. 1888; November 1, 2000, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Girl Who Lost Her Smile, p. 545.

Canadian Review of Materials, July, 1989, Hazel Birt, review of The Time before Dreams; November, 1990, Joanne Robertson, review of Bear in the Sky; March, 1991, Barbara Cornfield, review of Nina's Treasures, p. 97; October, 1992, Marion Scott, review of The Sleeping Bread; April 1, 2003, review of The Sea King.

Horn Book, May-June, 1994, Maeve Visser Knoth, review of The Hummingbirds' Gift, p. 310; July-August, 1996, review of Zora's Magic, p. 445.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2002, review of The Sea King, p. 1776; July 15, 2004, review of For Sure! For Sure!, p. 681; October 1, 2005, review of Zigzag, p. 1088; March 1, 2006, review of Liliput 5357, p. 228.

Publishers Weekly, February 24, 1992, review of The Sleeping Bread, p. 54; September 14, 1992, review of Pancho's Piñata, p. 125; March 10 1997, review of The Cricket's Cage, p. 65; June 29, 1998, review of Mr. Belinsky's Bagels, p. 57; November 21, 2005, review of Zigzag, p. 47; March 13, 2006, review of Liliput 5357, p. 64.

Quill and Quire, September, 2004, Carol L. MacKay, review of For Sure! For Sure!

Resource Links, October, 1999, review of Mama God, Papa God: A Caribbean Tale, p. 6; June, 2002, Valexie Pollock, review of Huevos Rancheros: A Mexican Tale, p. 1, and Linda Irvine, review of Aziz the Storyteller, p. 3; June, 2003, Deb Nielsen, review of The Sea King, p. 9; October, 2004, Linda Berezowski, review of For Sure! For Sure!, p. 2; December, 2004, Linda Berezowski, review of Ride 'Em, Cowboy, p. 2; December, 2005, Grace Sheppard, review of Zigzag, p. 8; April, 2006, Emily Springer, review of Liliput 5357, p. 4.

School Library Journal, December, 2000, Susan Hepler, review of The Girl Who Lost Her Smile, p. 94; April, 2001, DeAnn Tabuchi, review of Paper Lanterns, p. 105; April, 2002, Ann Welton, review of Huevos Rancheros, p. 102; November, 2002, Susan Hepler, review of Aziz the Storyteller, p. 127; November, 2004, Wendy Lukehart, review of For Sure! For Sure!, p. 90; December, 2004, Sandra Welzenbach, review of Ride 'Em, Cowboy, p. 105; November, 2005, Be Astengo, review of Zigzag, p. 106; April, 2006, Linda L. Walkins, review of Liliput 5357, p. 99.

ONLINE

British Columbia Library Association Web site,http://www.bcpl.gov.bc.ca/src/ (April 10, 2007), "Stefan Czernecki."

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Czernecki, Stefan 1946–

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